Sunday, April 15, 2018

The MRI Pot of Gold at the End of the Knee Injury Rainbow

I have had a lot going on since last we spoke. We moved offices at work, my family went on vacation to Albuquerque, and Katie and I went on her band trip to New Orleans.

Okay, when I say it like that, it doesn't sound like a lot, but trust me when I say that each of those things involved a lot of moving pieces and emotional labor. I successfully navigated each of those, however, and have come out the other side. I hope to tell you more about each of them, but that's not why I've called you here today.

You know how I'm always blathering on and on about running and I suddenly fell radio silent on the topic about a month ago? Well, for the first time in my running career, I suffered an acute injury, wherein my knee decided  that NO, THIS AGGRESSION WILL NOT STAND! and halted me in the middle of a run, when I was three miles from my home.

That was a long limp home.

I've had a lot of chronic aches and pains that are probably attributable to running, but I have not yet had an experience where I was all, "Uh oh. Something happened." I spent about a week limping about DC and Maryland and not being able to do things like run for Metro trains or across streets so I finally decided to go see an orthopedist/orthopod.

Said orthopod was kind of a jerkhole and was pretty dismissive of me and my injury. I think that he saw a chubby woman who said she hurt herself running and he assumed that I had just done a little too much and had regular old soreness. He didn't actually seem to hear me when I told him that three miles is nothing to me and actively looked skeptical when I told him my weekly mileage.

*makes squinched up angry face*

By this point in my injury, I wasn't limping quite as obviously and my pain level was manageable, so I probably didn't look super injured when he had me walk back and forth across his office and then do the same on tip toes. Then he asked me to walk on my heels at which point my knee immediately buckled and my pain shot through the roof. I have it on good authority that what that doctor did was have me hyperextend my already injured knee, which is something an orthopedist that believes what his patient is telling him probably shouldn't/wouldn't do.

I'm mad at the orthopod. He didn't even fucking blink that he made that happen.

Anywho, that evening I could barely walk. I was in sobbing tears because I thought I'd reinjured or further injured my knee and that it was now in really bad shape. I couldn't move my leg at all without stabbing pain.

It was a problem.

For his part, the doctor told me to ice the knee and take four Advil each morning and evening for a week and if it still hurt then, I should go in for an MRI. He even held up two hands, each with four fingers extended so I understood what he meant by four in the morning and four in the evening.

I repeat: I did not much care for this doctor.

I couldn't go for an MRI after a week because I was traveling all over the United States, so when I got home this week, I reassessed. I hadn't run since my injury and I'd been taking Advil and icing the knee. I was significantly better. I wasn't limping anymore and I was no longer in constant pain.

But the side of the knee hurts and sometimes when I move it in a new way, there is a shot of pain. I decided to get the MRI just to make sure nothing was wrong. I figured I'd rather find out everything is just hunky dory in the knee than run on it, destroying it step by step.

Frankly. I'd like to have an MRI of both hips, both knees, and both ankles, but I don't think they let you just decide that you want that.

Anywho, I went today and I gotta tell you, the MRI was kind of delightful. I mean, prying my wedding ring off of my sausage finger was a bummer, but once I'd climbed that hill, all was well. For knee MRIs, you go in feet first, so it's not claustrophobic. It is loud, but they give you noise blocking headphones and, frankly, that kind of background noise is actually calming for me.

I closed my eyes and laid very still for 25 minutes with very little problem except for that forehead itch at minute 15. Also, I am a toe stimmer and tend to twitch my toes A LOT, so I had to actively not do that, but otherwise, I was completely happy. I didn't have to talk to anyone. I was ensconced in an auditory and physical safe zone, and I was able to close my eyes and not have to be alert and awake.

Although after seeing the machine, I do have to say that a head-first MRI seems pretty bad — and I'm not even claustrophobic.

Afterward, the tech asked me how it had been. I told her it was relaxing and she said, "I don't believe you." I guess I am not like the other people.

Me standing in an MRI dressing room wearing a long patient gown
Also, I got to wear this ingenious gown with three armholes. Brilliant!
But for the fact that it will be Jerkface McOrthopod who will give me my test results, I look forward to finding out what is on the MRI. Hopefully Dr. Von Dismissive was right and it is nothing but achiness.

Regardless, I'm hoping to get out on the road again this week. I haven't gone without running for this long in years. It will be interesting to see how it goes out there. And by "interesting," I mean "awful," but that's okay. I hope to be boring you with running selfie after running selfie soon.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Haiku Schmaiku

Something has been bothering me for three years.

When I go to work in downtown DC, I walk through an area of town known as "the Golden Triangle." Every spring the triangle people have a "Golden Haiku" poetry contest and publish the results on little placards that they jam into roadside gardens all over the area. I walk past eighty-six million of these little placards every morning and afternoon.

Now, I'm not big into poetry so we all know that this isn't my thing. We all know that I will resent being forced to read poetry on my way to work. We all know that I have some anger issues.

But it makes me Dennis from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia rageful that the word "haiku" is on those placards in three spots when the poems are not, for the love of all that it holy and just in this world, haikus.

Three lines. Five syllables. Seven syllables. Five syllables. Right?

Not according to the Golden Triangle Management Bureau.

always/one step ahead/sidewalk sparrow by Elizabeth Steinglass
I've wanted to write this post for three years, but haven't because it seems like an asshole move to put someone's poetry up on a blog and then scream at it. I actually like this poem, so I feel better screaming about the concept while still supporting the poet.

Now, in previous years I've been so agitated that I've gone to the website to look at the rules and they specifically state that the poetry doesn't have to follow that traditional haiku format. This year, probably because I'm not the only one ready to send angry letters about syllables, the website has a big quote at the top attributed to the Haiku Society of America that says: "Haiku...a short poem that uses imagistic language to convey an experience."

I'm not buying what you're selling, Haiku Society of America.

Maybe I'm overly literal. Maybe once my third grade teacher told me how many syllables are in a haiku, I shouldn't have locked on so solidly to that idea. Maybe I should just not look at the placards as I walk past them.

Or maybe I just need to finally write this post so the poison of this great injustice to my third grade soul can vent and be released.

haiku comes in threes
of five then seven then five
i feel better now

Friday, March 16, 2018

The Great Move Back


Hi! I finally moved all my posts and photos off of Wordpress and back to where they're accessible on Blogger. Now that that is done, I will be moving my URL this weekend so it points to that blog. All this means is that when you go to http://www.stimeyland.com/ from now, on, it will look a little bit different.

I will also be canceling my Feedblitz subscriber service and also will not be publishing through Wordpress, so if you subscribe through either of these two ways, you should resubscribe using this link.

If you are like me and would never in a million years remember how you subscribed to a blog, I've included screenshots. If you get emails that look like either of the below pictures when a new post goes up, you will need to resubscribe. 

Feedblitz

Wordpress
Also, I have a post planned for next Monday, which will be the first one solely on the new space, so check back if you subscribed but don't see it. (I don't think I have to create a new feed once I point the URL there, but I know virtually nothing about this shit, so I might have to.)

Let's see how this goes! Thanks for being a reader!

Friday, March 9, 2018

Evidence Suggests That I Don't Really Have My Shit Together

Hey, remember Dipshit Friday, when I do dumb things and then tell you about it in the hopes that if I laugh first, you all won't make fun of me? Well, it's back.

*****

I've got a lot going on these days.

There are several big projects at work that I am heavily involved in and a liiiiiiittle bit stressed out about. It's IEP season, with two meetings for two kids within four days of each other. I have two trips coming up—one with the whole family and one involving me being in charge of 12 teenagers I (mostly) don't know in New Orleans. Scheduling everything to work together is a complete nightmare. Plus Alex just got back from a week out of town, during which time I was forced to take over his 6 am waking-up-the-kids duties. Also, have I mentioned that I have three kids that need a lot of driving around and homework coaxing and organizing and feeding OMG WHY SO MUCH FEEDING DO YOU REALLY HAVE TO EAT THAT OFTEN LIKE SERIOUSLY MORE THAN ONCE A DAMN DAY?!?!

I am not...at my best.

I mean, I'm kicking the shit out of all of these things. I am T.C.B.—taking care of business like a goddamn boss, but it turns out that in areas of my life that are less crucial, I am faltering. Like, I am forgetting to do basic things.

I think I realized how all over the place and unfocused I was the day that I parked at the Metro station, went to work, and came back six hours later to find my car was still running.

I HAD LEFT MY CAR RUNNING UNATTENDED FOR SIX HOURS.

Think on that for a minute.

I distinctly remember that morning when I got out of my car and hit the lock button on the door, as I usually do, that something was wrong. The doors didn't lock. Naturally I assumed that the door lock must just be broken, so I got out, shut the door and locked the car from the outside. Then I walked away. Based upon later experimentation, it turns out that if the car is running, the door won't lock via the open door lock, perhaps to prevent people from, you know, leaving their cars on.

The funny thing is that my car dings when the key leaves it, so it must have spent all day sort of desperately flashing the warning THE KEY HAS LEFT THE VEHICLE THE KEY HAS LEFT THE VEHICLE THE KEY HAS LEFT THE VEHICLE while dinging sadly every three seconds.

I eventually came back, of course, and was all, "Why is the car already running?" I decided that I must have accidentally hit the remote start, which I didn't AND which is actually kinda impossible to do unintentionally. I figured this out when I got in the car and noticed three things:

1. The ignition was on full "run" instead of the remote start mode.
2. The car was very warm and had that "imminently overheated" smell to it.
3. A significant amount of gas from my previously full tank had disappeared.
 
Clearly this is a sign that I should employ some self care. Or drop some of my responsibilities. Or take a nap. I think I'll do that one.

P.S. This isn't the first time I've done something along these lines. During one high-stress time in my 20's I parked in the parking lot where I worked and went inside only to have a friend drive by hours later and come inside to tell me that I'd left my car door hanging open. I'd just forgotten to close it. So this isn't exactly a new development. I can't decide if that's a good or bad thing.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

"Highlights" of the "Flu"

I was sick the other day and spent about 24 hours either sleeping or trying not to throw up or throwing up. My crowning achievement of the day was when I picked up Jack from his after-school activity, drove a half block, stopped at a red light, opened my door, and puked out the side of my car until the light turned green.

It was a really effective way to freak Jack out.

I'm fine. I don't know exactly what it was. I thought it was the stomach flu, but since it was so well contained into one day, I am wondering if it was something else. Either way, I'm fine now and mention this mostly because in my late-night delirium, I thought I had a hilarious idea for a blog post called "Highlights of the Flu" and I wrote a list of things on my phone that were said highlights.

This list is incomprehensible. Also? Not all that hilarious.

The one amusing thing is that I took a giant barrel of pretzels upstairs to bed with me because all of our crackers were expired (hmmm, I wonder how I got sick). I put it on my bed and it made a noise and then Pickles the cat spent a good chunk of time rolling it back and forth, seeming to think I'd brought him the greatest new cat toy ever.

White cat sniffing a big jug of pretzels
We were operating at about the same level of comprehension at this point.
And there you have my Thursday. It was not a good day.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Sliding Doors

An insane thing happened to Alex and me today. INSANE. Well, it happened mostly to Alex, but I was along for the ride. I'm writing this in a lighthearted manner, but it was pretty awful as it was happening. Laugh or cry, right? I will preface this story with the information that no Alexes were harmed in the making of this story and everyone is 100 percent A-okay. That said, let me start from the beginning.

Alex went to see the doctor for a routine travel checkup this week because he is going to the Dominican Republic next month. After that appointment they took his blood because he has a physical coming up. NBD. Last night they left a message on our answering machine asking him to call today for his results.

After leaving for work this morning, Alex texted that apparently he was anemic. Then he texted again to say that the doctor wanted him to go back today and then I heard nothing else. Assuming all was well, I drove in to work (I usually take Metro, but I had something heavy with me today) and was there for about ten or fifteen minutes (maybe) when I got the following text:

"I need to talk to you. Can I call you in a few minutes?"

I should maybe tell you now that Alex and I don't talk on the phone. We almost entirely communicate through texts, sometimes even when we're in the same building. This seemed ominous.

His follow up to my asking if he was okay was:

"Dr. XXX needs me to go to the emergency room for some tests. Will you go with me?"

Well. That seems even more ominous.

I set out for the hospital and asked if I could call him from my car, but he was unavailable because HE STOPPED TO GO TO A MEETING BEFORE GOING TO THE EMERGENCY ROOM. Once he got out of the meeting he called to let me know that the doctor wanted him to go to the emergency room because his blood test results were bad in that every one of the counts you want to be high was low. And his platelet count, which should be 150,000 to 450,000 was three.

We named them later: Hildegarde, Barry, and Red.

It turns out that the count was actually 3,000, but that's still not good. And it presents a less satisfying image than the one I was imagining in which his three platelets were huddled together, looking around worriedly, and asking, "Where'd everybody go?"

I got to the ER first because I had no meetings to attend. Once Alex got there, I tried to keep him entertained and told him it could be nothing—maybe they mixed up blood samples and some really sick guy had Alex's good results. Maybe he had thrombosis that is, according to my fifteen seconds of web research, sometimes treatable with medication. I very specifically didn't mention leukemia.

Alex, whose doctor on the phone that morning had told him that he needed to "reorient your thinking," was also pointedly not mentioning leukemia. Although when I sat in a chair across from him instead of next to him, he did remark, "I see. You don't want to sit next to your dying husband." We are the worst kind of people.

They took us into triage, where they tried and failed to get Alex's blood, which wasn't a good sign. Then they took us to a double room where they gave Alex a hospital gown. Alex, ever compliant, put it on OVER as much of his clothing as possible and sat down in the bed.

Shortly thereafter, a nurse came by and stood in the doorway. "I'm not coming in because I don't have a mask on," he said. " But we're going to move you to a more isolated room because of the situation."
Again, ominous.

Their thinking was obviously that Alex was severely immuno-compromised and should not be around other people. Alex looked like he was going to FREAK OUT. I internally freaked out by starting to plan his funeral and speculating about whether I'd be able to donate his organs. Because I'm not a monster, I didn't say any of this out loud.

Seriously. WHAT WAS THE FUCKING SITUATION?!

They wanted to try again to get more blood to retest Alex's counts, so they sent in a tech who worked diligently and with vigor on getting a sample out of first this arm and then that arm as Alex, the dingbat, tried to write a work email with the other hand. I have seen that man do work from his phone in some very inappropriate places, but I think this one took the cake.

IMG_3067
I took this photo with his permission AFTER we knew everything was okay. Again: NOT a monster.
The lab tech was successful in getting Alex's blood right when the doctor came in to ask a bunch of questions and tell him about the plan. I had a notebook and pen ready because I was going to be Alex's Advocate and take records and otherwise do everything right, but I didn't because I left it in my purse and I only remember the doctor saying that they were going to admit Alex overnight and go from there.

Shortly thereafter, more techs wheeled a portable x-ray machine into the room to do a chest x-ray. We live in a miraculous age.

After this, it was waiting time. I pulled my chair next to the hospital bed, took away Alex's phone, and we waited for whatever was to come next.

What came next was that the doctor eventually came back in to tell Alex that they had the results from the CBC and his counts were entirely normal. I said loudly and inappropriately, "Fuck yes!" as Alex started to repeatedly ask if the doctor was making a joke.

Confidential to Alex: I don't think doctors are allowed to joke like that—"It turns out that everything is fine. You're totally healthy!...Just kidding! You will likely die this week."

Alex literally asked the doctor three times if he was serious. Turns out he was. Then the doctor said, "Maybe the blood samples got mixed up and someone else out there got your results," which, if you remember from three hours and thirteen paragraphs ago, I HAD ALREADY SAID.

It's almost like I'm a doctor myself.

We still had to wait for more results, so the doctor left and we finally said leukemia, in the "thank God you don't have leukemia" sense and generally reinforced how happy we both were that our lives hadn't changed irrevocably that day.

Our nurse came back in to check Alex's chest with a stethoscope, but he hadn't heard the good news that it was probably a lab mistake, so we told him that. He very solemnly lowered his mask, said "probably," and re-raised it. Alex and I were all, what the fuck?

But then he took off the mask and told us that this happens regularly, blah, blah, blah. Alex joked that some elderly and very, very sick man was all, "I'm totally healthy; I have the blood of a 40-year-old!" and the guy's face got serious and he said, "You should probably follow up with your doctor about that."

Half an hour and a sheaf of forms later, we were enthusiastically and with much relief out of there. We went to lunch and Alex drove back in to work.

Life is weird, isn't it? This story could have ended up much differently. Now, a few hours removed, it feels like I made it up. It was exhausting to go through it for just half a day. But people get sick all the time. One day someone is fine, then there's a bad test, and then everything changes. It's awful and it's unfair and I am so very grateful that it wasn't us this time.

Driving in to the parking garage that morning at a hospital I had never been to, I wondered if this was the first of many trips here. I wondered if I was going to become a regular at this place. I wondered of what this was the first day.

Life is precarious. Every day is a gift. I'm glad that we have at least one more.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Ch-ch-ch-changes

I have been writing this blog since 2007. Originally, I hosted it on Blogger. Then I moved it to a self-hosted Wordpress site because that was all the rage. Now that I write far less often, I'm interested in a free platform, which is why I'm returning to Blogger. Don't even ask me how much I wish I had just stayed there.

Answer: a lot.

So. I don't have any idea how many of y'all still read here. And of you readers, I don't know how many of you subscribe via email or via reader. Any of you who are subscribed will likely have to resubscribe at the new site.

I will be publishing this post and then I will be redirecting my URL back to blogspot. So, if you are reading this and are interested in making sure you continue to get my oh-so-stellar content, look in the right sidebar and enter your email if you want posts emailed to you or click the button that says "subscribe in a reader" (for reader or email).

Caveat: I don't know if older posts will get sent to subscribers as I add them back to the website. I suspect not because they will be backdated, but I am just warning you that this a thing that might happen.

I intend to eventually make sure all of my content is in one place over on Blogger, but until then, you might not be able to find it all. Also, I'm sure that Google searching for said content will be unreliable due to my content being all over tarnation and whatnot.

For now, you will be able to see all 2018 posts at Stimeyland and hopefully the older ones will eventually show up.

Wish me luck, guys. I am sure that I will regret this about ten minutes after I do it, but I want to be in a situation where I don't have to pay for hosting every month if I'm not blogging. (Note: I am not giving up blogging. I just know that eventually I will and I want to prepare now when I still have enough energy to care.)

I've been kinda avoiding writing until I get this done, so I'm pushing the button, jumping off the board, hurling myself out of the plane! I pretty much always fuck up even the simplest blog tech stuff, so stay tuned for the disaster story. Wish me luck!